Skip to main content

tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  January 19, 2015 9:30am-10:01am EST

9:30 am
r a flock of flamingos to take up residents. >> and a quick reminder you can keep up-to-date with all the news on our website. there it is on your screen. all the latest of going on in the capitol of sanaa. www.aljazeera.com. there it is. www.aljazeera.com. a show about innovations that can change lives. . >> the science of fighting a humanity and we are doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. let's check out the team of hard-core nerds. dr crystal dilworth is a molecular neuroscientist. tonight -
9:31 am
basil mint and more growing under light in an industrial warehouse in chicago. zero pesticides - 98% less water. who needs rolling fields and who needs the sun? >> you have a lot more red than you do blue. >> yes. >> why is that. >> specialising in ecology and evolution. the wild paradise smacked in the middle of an airport. >> that's all honey in here. >> yes. >> conservationists are turning wasteland green, and using extraordinary measures to keep it that way. >> here goes. i'm phil torres. i'm an entomologist. that's our team, now let's do some science. hey, guys, welcome to techknow, i'm phil torres, joined
9:32 am
by marita davison, and crystal dilworth. as you think of a farm in the midwest you think of corn and wheat fields, it's not the case these days. >> as research is scarce, farmers find innovative solutions to problems. farmers are turned on its head, including going away from the field, and taking it indoors. going indoors, stacking plants and growing problems in the absence of sunlight. it sounds like a science fair experiment. it's a viable business. >> reporter: sometimes mother enemy. >> if we don't get rain in a 30 day window we'll be in strife. >> in california 400,000 acres
9:33 am
are unplanted at a cost of $800 million in loft revenue because of the drought. >> in bosnia, the worst floods swamped 172,000 acres of crops in may. devastating the country's agricultural industry. last wint inside polar vortex took a toll as the impact made big news on the vineyard. >> a crisis on the lake erie shore line. >> some call it global warming, global weirding. >> reporter: robert, founder of green sense farms is not worried about mother nature. he raises his crops here, inside a 30,000 square food warehouse, 50 miles outside of chicago. >> they are growing crops and warehouses, farmers say they can bring local produce from farm to table in places like this in as little as
9:34 am
24 hours. >> what are some of the major this? >> they take weather out of the equation. every day is consistent and the same. we get perfect plants every day. >> reporter: green sense farms opened doors in may and is supplying 1,000 cases of produce to stores and restaurants in the midwest. how do you meet the challenges? >> there's no book. no one has done this before. we had to be innovative. the pink glow is a result of innovations. more than 3,000 red and blue l.e.d. grow lights. health plants use sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce glucose - the plants don't need the whole spectrum to do it, just certain colours. >> these lights are specially made to really nail photosynthesis for the plant. >> reporter: lane patterson is a
9:35 am
senior grow at the farm. >> photosynthesis occurs at the two wavelengths, the red and blue. 60 and 40 nanometres. we are saying "here is the light that you really, really, really light." touch these lights. feel how cool they burn up top. hot. >> they don't generate a lot of heat. you can put them closer to the plants and stack the trace. we have 10 levels, we could probably get 15. this is a mint. taste that. tell me how you like it. >> reporter: so good. >> what is most amazing is how dark it is, and you pull it out into the light is see how green it becomes. >> reporter: warehouse growers are not the only ones turning to l.e.d.s, here researchers are testing them, to see if they can give plants a boost on short winter days. >> this opens possibilities.
9:36 am
>> kerry mitchell is a professor of applicant physiology. >> we are showing that you can save considerable payments of electrical power using l.e.d.s. that will make it economically feasible for greenhouse growers to grow plants like the high wire tomatoes in the off season. >> researchers are studying recipes. by changing the intensity of life and colours. you have more red than blue in this display. >> yes. >> reporter: why is that? >> it's a great question, we have 95% red, 5% blue. if we have more blue than that, we start in hib itting leaf expansion, and start in hib itting stem growth. we think the higher blue may be valuable, for improving the health or attributes of tomato, but not at this statement. >> do you think it's a fad or a growing trend? >> it's a growing trend.
9:37 am
>> the lighting technology will improve. the thing that is limiting it right now is the initial cost. >> philip's lighting is subsidizing the l.e.d.s as part of a research partnership. they are experimenting with light recipes with different plants. >> a year from now i hope to have a pattern specific to basil and chives, and lettuces, and that's where you'll see us get a much higher optimisition, and more efficiency in the growing. more efficiency in the growing, does that mean faster, what does that mean? cheeper. >> how - being high on resources. planting. today? >> okay. >> we use a vacuum cedar. >> this is coconut core in a puck. and there's 105 pucks here.
9:38 am
what i'm attempting to do is get a seed in every one of those pucks - dead on. we have to stay crowned up. coconut husk, a renewable resource. it's inert, it doesn't have bacteria, chemical properties, it allows the plant to grow rapidly, it hydrates rapidly and dries. the water nutrients flow through the root system. >> we are recycling water, need. >> we'll roam around. >> it does happen fast. >> that's the excess. we'll look at it one more time. nice. careful. they look like they are eggs in a nest. >> that's the idea. 42 days later we have a head of lettuce. >> reporter: that's 3-7 days
9:39 am
faster than lettuce in a field, pesticides. >> we don't apply anything to the plant. the water and nutrients go into the root system. nothing touches the leaves. when you walk through the farm, you eat the leaves off the shelf. environment. >> diana is a client. she spicks up live basil plants for her cafe, her restaurant in gary indiana. >> i need a little more for the batch. then we are going to blend all of the ingredients toot. it's a star ingredient for one of her dishes, pesto. >> it's an herb hard to get this large quanties and all year round. it's solved when you have a local indoor form.
9:40 am
are you ready? you go first. >> reporter: okay. that's really amazing. >> good. >> reporter: that is delicious. camera. >> it was something self-started by the farming community, or did it draw inspiration elsewhere? >> well, interest in this type of indoor farming in the absence of sun light - not surprisingly was originally started by the marijuana industry, but has been coopted by formers, using their approaches to grow basil and other high nutrient value crops that they struggle to get to the store, local and organically. >> with the marijuana industry, one of ways they were getting caught is houses were producing
9:41 am
heat. l.e.d.s don't produce a lot of heat. that could have pushed that energy efficiency. >> exactly. think about the bathroom and kitchen lighting. they designing for basil. >> we have seen the wonder of basil. what is next? >> i look at how basil plants and fish live in harmony, and do it all indoors. about these stories. following us on twitter and at aljazeera.com/techknow. conclude >> tomorrow. from race relations to foreign policies, terrorism and the economy. >> if this congress wants to help, work with me. >> ali velshi kicks off our special state of the union coverage at 7:00. >> we'll take an in-depth look at our nation's financial future. >> then john seigenthaler breaks down the issues. >> we need to know what's going on in our backyard. >> plus, objective analysis and live reports from across the nation and reaction from around
9:42 am
the world. the state of the union address. special coverage begins tomorrow at 7:00 eastern. right here on al jazeera america.
9:43 am
9:44 am
[ ♪ music ♪ ] hey, guys, welcome back to "techknow". i'm phil torres, with marita davison, and dr it crystal dilworth. we have seen the wonders of baseill. what comes up next. >> next i look at how baseill plants and talopia fish are living in harmony, and doing it indoors. >> reporter: for most of us these are the images that come to mind when we think of farms - rows of produce spanning to the horizon, farmers using machines to fertilise crops. at this warehouse farm outside of chicago, the rows go up, and fish do the work of fertilizing the produce. >>
9:45 am
one, two, three, go. [ laughs ] they are hungry. that means they are healthy. >> reporter: paul is a cofounder of farmed here. >> imagine ponds with fish swimming in water and plants living around it. that's what we are trying to replicate indoors. it's a symbionic relationship between fish and plants, that's how we grow the crops >> reporter: the water from the tanks, and fish waste flows through filters, there, natural bacteria breaks the waste into nitrates, before the water is cycled to the plants. >> i try to have the most available plant foods on the planets. the nutrient rich water is moved to the area of growth systems where the plants live. they take the nutrients, they filter the water, and the water recirculates back in the fish. >> this system helps farms to be certified organic.
9:46 am
do you need to at supplements or do the fish provide all the nutrients. >> our focus at this point is greens, baseill, kale, salad mixes, and we have trials with tomatoes. it's like a supplement, taking vitamins that both of us could take. produce harvested in the 90 square food warehouse is destined for the shelves of the stores in the area. >> here you see we are using fluorescent lighting. that's how we started four years ago, for the transition of switching lighting to l.e.d.s. >> reporter: forms partnered with looumy text to make the switch to l.e.d.s, it's hoped that it will help to expand the crops behind l.e.d.s. >> they have
9:47 am
developed l.e.d.s solutions for strawberries, peppers and tomatoes >> reporter: now the fish are here to help with the growth of the plant crops. will you farm the fish? >> eventually we will. we'll farm and sell the fish. we had some success selling fish to local restaurants, and as our scale grows and we have more fish to sell. we hope to sell to supermarkets as well. >> this is thai baseill, it has a different flavour. feel free to try. it's my favourite, actually. it smells different than italian baseill, doesn't it. >> yes. >> right now, there are only a handful of commercial indoor vertical farms in the united states, like farms here and green sense farms. the professor says he gets calls from growers wondering if they should jump in.
9:48 am
>> on a commercial scale, where going. >> it's an expansion. these are niche markets. is there a limit to it. what about the traditional crops, like corn and saya beans and rice. >> all can be grown with l.e.d.s. what becomes important is the economics of the grope. so it makes more incidence to grow high value crops in a controlled environment than a field crop. >> traditional farming for commodity crops will be there for a long, long time. you have to look at the economical equation. farming is subsidised. what would be the real cost of farming and the impact on the environment. we are trying to build a for profit model, showing the world that we don't need to be subsidised, we can stand on our viable. >> do you think indoor farming will replace field
9:49 am
farming? >> no, i don't. i think they'll work in tandem in the future, as the car stratified with different fuel types, you'll see the same stratification in farming. >> what would you say to someone that said plants are supposed to be grown in the sun. i would say that people said the world was flat, and we found out that it was round. our quality is as good or better than anything you can grow outdoors, and we are chemical free. my answer is smell it, taste it, eat it. >> reporter: works for me. >> this is my favourite shoot. my favourite story so this whole complex system - all of it indoors. it's like a little mini eco system. you worked as an ecologist. what do you see when you look at that, maria? >> it's interesting how they created a little mini eco
9:50 am
system. that's not easy to do. the question is whether or not it can scale, and how complex it may be to do that. in ecology we build microcosms, meso cos s and macrocos s, going from the small to the large and they do not scale necessarily in a straightforward way. there's a lot of factions that come into play. for me, that is the biggest question - whether they'll do be. >> a tomato is difficult, corn also. the commodity crops take a lot of energy and space. as i learnt when talking with the formers engaged in the process. they think there'll be a hybrid approach, but we are never going to see the absence of the large, large beautiful fields of corn. >> besides indoors and the winters of chicago, farms are popping up in surprising places, like airports.
9:51 am
>> we think of airports as a lot of human activity. planes are not the only things flying around airports. that's
9:52 am
9:53 am
[ ♪ music ♪ ] welcome back to techknow. i'm phil torres, joined by dave, and dr crystal dilworth. i'm an entomologist, and i like working with insects. one of my favourites are the bee, that may be in trouble. >> i think of airports as being places that are destructive to wildlife. it's not always the case. >> no, in fact, i thought to take a tour at sea pack airport in seattle where they are taking steps not to just keep wildlife striking aircraft, making us safer in the air, but are taking steps to make bees a little safer. let's check it out. [ ♪ music ♪ ] >> reporter: as one of the busiest airports in the north-west, seatac international serves 30 million passengers each year. most don't realise they are sharing airspace with half a million bees.
9:54 am
>> we are standing in the middle of one of the three areas at cietac airport. >> bob is the executive director of common acre, a nonprofit bee conservation group, partnering with the port of seattle to form the flight path project. bee. >> reporter: let's talk about why it's important to conserve bees. tell me about colony collapse. >> first of all, bees pollonate a third of everything that humans eat. since 2006, there's a syndrome, mostly affecting commercial beekeepers in which the colonies enter a doom cycle and cannot produce enough bees to survive. the populations collapse. >> reporter: that is all honey. >> would you like to taste. >> reporter: david is a seatac bee keeper. >> stick your finger in like winnie the pew. >> reporter: david is in charge.
9:55 am
queen bee breeding programme. >> we wanted to develop local north-west bees that are better at surviving the winter than the californian bees that come up in the spring. so we are here at the airport where we have a island. vacant land surrounding an airport may be unusual. seatac's buffer, 1,000 acres, represents city's demand to find creative solutions, in the areas. >> on the island, for the most part, we control the drones in the air, and we can control the colony genetics, and so we can set up the situation where we can select our best queens. hopefully they'll wait with the drones and we create seatac airport flight paths. >> as carefully selected as the bees have been, and despite the
9:56 am
fact that the colonies are capable of surviving many superbees. >> there's no magic bullet. >> the answer is not a huge chemical, industrial thing. it's something that all of us can do. plant flowers, no chemical input, and let the lawn grow an inch taller, that's the solution to making a healthier bee. not the superbee. >> reporter: it's also about keeping invasive species out. for this, the airport has a wildlife biologist on staff. he has come up with creative solutions. >> the reason we have the coyote airboat, using the pyrotechnics, noise bankers and screamers -
9:57 am
they do work, but the wildlife gets used to it. when they have a predator come after them, especially when we have a mock-up that looks like a coyote, they are less apt to hang around. >> with natural wetlands a few hundred feet from the runway, birds could be a problem. especially the starling flocks that can strike or get sucked into planes causing damage. runways. >> this is the email when the door is closed. >> reporter: a system of email alerts and alarms let crews know caught. >> let's find the raptor and get it out the track. >> reporter: looks like it's ready to be somewhere else. >> that is great about the texting traps, we can get the bird out.
9:58 am
>> the female hawk will be re-elected about 70 miles away. she'll be tagged so crews can make sure she doesn't return. so far, less than 3% do. that is considered success for the team of conservationists. >> how is the public responding to the efforts going on? >> overwhelmingly the public response is yea. we can't put houses here, but we can do something for conservation. that's a big win. >> one of the things i have to bring up, how amazing is the remote controlled coyote on an air boat. who thought of that. >> crazy, the wildlife biologist, steve, this is his idea. he's from seatac. it's brilliant. the fact that you can scare birds away from the flight path of a plane using this model of a coyote on a motor boat was amazing. we saw it work. >> conservation work in the
9:59 am
field should be fun, and we should come up with the creative ideas, i love watching it. >> i'm jealous of you guys, you do fieldwork. >> come alang, we'll find something fluorescent in the amazon that you can study. >> and go behind the scenes at aljazeera.com. follow our expert contributors on twitter, facebook, instagram, google+ and more.
10:00 am
. >> hello and welcome to the news hour. we have your top stories on al jazeera. [ gunfire ] >> yemen pushed to the brink once more. houthi rebels battle soldiers near the presidential palace. the prime minister has been attacked the government calling this an attempted coup. iran

17 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on